as featured in the News & Observer
Logan ran for Mr. UNC back in November with one thing in mind: We all can play.
That simple sentiment continues to disrupt a long tradition of inaccessible "icons" at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As Logan mentions throughout the series, many of UNC's two-hundred year-old buildings are entirely inaccessible. Meanwhile, the University's Old Well is somehow less accessible than the 8th floor of Davis Library. And the great tradition of sports at UNC –– to the tune of 43 team national championships –– simply doesn't exist for students with disabilities. Not through campus recreation, not through club sports, not at all.
A short five months later, Carolina Adapted Athletics, founded by Logan Gin and Joe Nail, provides competitive athletic opportunities for students with physical and developmental disabilities. Put simply, Carolina Adapted Athletics provides a space where "We all can play" is actually true, and athletes –– with and without disabilities –– can embolden the alleged tradition of excellence in Carolina sports.
UNC students can sign up here for the Carolina Adapted Athletics wheelchair basketball showcase on April 23rd, 2–5 in Woollen Gym. Anyone may attend.
Follow the event @carolinaadapted
Well I was diagnosed at birth with diastrophic dysplasia: dwarfism. So that’s kind of there. They told my parents they thought I would just be shorter. Because my mom is pretty short. So through the ultrasound they just thought, you know, my arms and legs would be kind of short. But when I came out they were like ‘Uh no, actually he has dwarfism.’ And that sort of thing. So my parents were kind of, I don’t know. They’ve been supportive this entire time. They were just kind of like, ‘Okay this is our son.’
My brother and dad were always about the Logan Way of doing things. For example my brother started driving when he was 16. So I was like, ‘Well shoot. I’m turning 16. I want to drive, too.’ So my dad works on cars for a living. He’s an auto body repairmen. And when I turned 16, he found a car that came through the shop, just like an old car that I could use to drive. Nothing special. But we worked –– well, he worked to get the pedal extension set up for that. Just for me to drive. So that was kind of one example. You know, he wanted to set me up for success. Whatever it would take for me to be independent in that way.
Lots of surgeries in middle school, so starting in 9th grade I was just getting the hang of my crutches and that sort of thing. But, the school didn’t have an elevator – at all. It was a really old school. Just a super inaccessible school. Yeah. I think they may have like one ramp entrance but then once you get in you can’t get onto the second floor because there’s no elevator. But I was always a pretty successful student throughout. And that was kind of when I started thinking about taking the academic risks and challenges on first, then knowing that I could overcome any physical barriers that may be associated with that. So I was able to eventually gain enough strength to go fine throughout the day with the crutches and, you know, get up the stairs. I had books at home and books at school, so I didn’t have to carry quite as much stuff with me. So little accommodations like that.
Right now we’re about 400 miles away from Ohio, and mom and dad, and that sort of thing. Like we have Ohio State right in our backyard essentially, which kind of would’ve been the safe option and whatever. I knew I could take the academic leap to UNC, a more prestigious and academically stronger school – but I also knew that I would be faced with just some additional challenges, like obviously living on campus by myself and that sort of thing. And sort of leaving that safety net that was my hometown and my parents and things like that. So that was really huge for me. And since being here, I’ve gone abroad – twice. I’ve worked in San Francisco and at the University of Georgia doing research and stuff like that. Those physical limitations and aspects are like really far down on my priority list when I’m thinking about making my decisions now, which is kind of reversed. It used to be the first thing that I would think about.
When I ran for Mr. UNC, I created a platform in order to bring light to issues of accessibility, inclusion, and access in order to provide adaptive sport options so – and this is the hashtag – so #WeAllCanPlay. It’s just the idea that hey, we all love our sports here at Carolina. I mean I’m the biggest football and basketball fan you know. But that’s just sort of not something we think about. Like, ‘Oh, individuals with disabilities like recreation, too.’ So when I’m thinking about that, even just having an option for students is a good first step. And the hope is with this expansion of what we think of when we think of sports – we might get people to recognize that there are things I guess the rest of the student body enjoys that some students can’t enjoy.
The fact that part of like the pride and tradition of UNC is that we are the first public university and we’re this historic institution and we’re really old and have these old buildings – is, like, awesome and great and I love everything about that and I’m totally about it. But uh, also knowing that presents physical barriers as well, is kind of a little bit, uh, frustrating. Things like, some entrances are not accessible through the front, so you have to go to the back. Just little things you don’t have think about if you have wheels, or crutches. Or if the elevator’s out and I’m on my scooter for the day – that, you know, that can be a problem. There are a couple buildings that just aren’t accessible at all on far north campus like Smith. I had to meet a professor there one time and she was all the way in the attic of the building. I circled the building looking for a ramp to get in and whatever, and I couldn’t find a ramp, so I parked my scooter by the bike rack and just got on my crutches and climbed the stairs, and uh, got in. So just little annoyances like that, that are just, um, caused by the world around us I guess. That’s kind of where the advocacy piece comes in. Just to try to minimize those obstacles. Just to make life a little bit easier.
With the ‘disability as an identity thing,’ I don’t know. It’s tough. It’s kind of like a spectrum. Yeah maybe there are some days that, yeah, I don’t know, I’ll get kind of frustrated with campus and I’m like, ‘Yep. Disability’s happenin’ today!’ and that sort of thing. And then there’s like, I can go the entire week without really thinking about that. Because at the end of the day, I’m going to do what I’m going to do, and I do everything that any other student is gonna do here. So, I don’t know. I would say the best way to describe it is kind of a spectrum, and being able to recognize that I can kind of move throughout that –– that it’s kind of more fluid than anything? But like if you would ask like my parents or my family or people that know me really well, the first thing they would not say is ‘Hey, he has a disability.’ Like when my mom talks to her friends, or her ‘people,’ she refers to me as like ‘the student,’ or talks about the work that I’m doing and things like that before she would ever mention that I have dwarfism. And when I like introduce myself to other people, I’m Logan, I’m the RA, I’m the Advocates for Carolina co-chair, I’m the first-generation college student. I’m, you know, all these things – and I happen to have a disability.
Yeah! But then – but then there are sometimes where I’m like, ‘Shit I can’t get in the building! I have wheels!’ and, you know, ‘My disability is really impacting this scenario! And let’s do something about it and let’s change it!'
I think people are like often too quick to like call someone an ‘inspiration’ or use big words like that to describe me just doing what I’m doing . . . Like I don’t know, taking a shower, and brushing my teeth, and getting lunch and that sort of thing – there’s nothing ‘inspirational’ about that. That’s kind of where I don’t like the term ‘inspirational.’ Where I’m doing anything that anyone else would do. I don’t think people in general should think that’s necessarily an inspiration. If I’m living my life, I mean, I don’t know. A routine life to me isn’t necessarily inspirational, but I mean yeah, I’m just a little cautious with the term. It comes up quite a bit. And it’s tempting to say, ‘Yeah, but I’m just doing what you’re doing.’
I don’t know, maybe if I like climb a mountain or something! But if I’m climbing out of bed that’s just not inspirational by my standards. If we toss it around too much it just kind of loses its value. I have high standards for myself. I only want to be called inspirational if I’m like truly achieving something that is substantial.